Like every other person with any interest in sports, I was watching Barry Bonds at close to midnight Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday, August 7, 2007. Number 756 went to right center field, the deepest part of a huge ballpark. The flashbulbs, the cheers, the spectacle, were all there. Conspicuously absent, of course, was Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. Should he have been there? Does Barry Bonds even care if he was? These are just a few of the lingering questions from this night.Perhaps the most important question, with the most telling answer, is this one: “Will you remember where you were when Barry Bonds hit his 756th homerun?” Important events often carry this question. The moon-landing, John F. Kennedy’s assassination, 9/11. These events are far more historically relevant than anything in sports.
Still, there have been only two moments in my life that I remember thinking, “This is huge. This is something I am going to remember for the rest of my life.” In 2001, the World Trade Center terrorist attacks shook the foundation of everything that I had ever known. I was 14 years old, a freshman in high school, in the first week of classes. Someone had said that a plane had flown into a building in New York City, and all eyes were glued to television sets around the school. I remember standing in the cafeteria, watching the news flash that it was not an accident, that it was a terrorist attack, when suddenly a second plane flew into the other tower. It was a chilling, haunting experience that I will never forget.
In perspective, the first event that I remember this vividly hardly deserves to be in the same breath of September 11, 2001. It was 1993. I was 6 years old, sitting in my living room, watching a baseball game. Joe Carter hit a walk-off homerun to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies in the clinching Game 6 of the World Series. I can remember sitting on the carpet, and turning around to ask my dad why it was over. In a very different, yet very real way, it was an experience that I will never forget.
Few things in life shake us the way that major sporting events do. Did this homerun shake me? Will I look back on my youth and this be a focal point, when I saw the greatest individual record in all of sports fall? I do not feel that my experience will be muddied if Barry Bonds is found guilty of using performance-enhancing substances, since most people consider it a foregone conclusion anyway. I will either remember it, or not.
So more importantly, will I remember where I was, and what I felt, when Barry Bonds hit the 756th homerun of his baseball career?
I cannot say. But I think, however, that the very fact that I cannot say more than answers the question.